Nearly six years ago, Viola Davis made history as the first Black woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama. In her acceptance speech, she emphasized, “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”
NBCUniversal has long been on a journey to create those opportunities: to build an inclusive, equitable industry where creators from all backgrounds and identities can tell stories as diverse as the audiences we serve, and amplify previously overlooked narratives.
Our company’s commitment to diversity dates back to 1939 when NBC aired “The Ethel Waters Show.” Waters broke barriers as the first Black person to star in her own television show. Since then, the company has aired many history-making moments for underrepresented communities and created opportunities for diverse talent in the industry. For more than two decades, NBCUniversal’s talent pipeline programs have discovered and developed emerging talent on and off the screen, and program alumni are celebrated writers, producers, directors and onscreen talent who continue to impact our content and the industry at large.
Multicultural content—from the shows that air in primetime, to the ad creative that serves as a connective tissue for the viewing experience, to the connections our own NBCU family members have both in front of and behind the camera—has the power to shape conversation, influence culture, and change our world for the better. And we’re committed to helping the next generation of artists create even more of it.
We know that in order to change the industry, we must start from within. That’s why NBCUniversal has doubled down on its commitment to hire and retain diverse talent, from the decision-makers casting our shows, to the people yelling “cut,” to the costumers and makeup artists and set designers that bring our stories to life. Because when people from all backgrounds, experiences, and cultures bring their own stories to the ones we’re telling onscreen—that’s how we create content that truly resonates.
We also know that meaningful transformation takes trusted partnership. So, in partnership with Target, we’re proud to premiere our Scene in Color Film Series. Hosted by award-winning producer Will Packer, this series will offer rising talent access to our biggest stage, One Platform, as well as the resources and mentorship needed to create even more impactful multicultural stories in the future.
This summer, the Scene in Color Film Series will feature three incredibly talented emerging Black filmmakers and their work. Chicago filmmaker Addison Wright spotlights Black ballerinas who are blending hip-hop with classical pointe in “Hiplet: Because We Can.” With her visual poem, “To the Girl that Looks Like Me,” activist and filmmaker Ewurakua Dawson-Amoah shows Black women that there is space for them in the media industry. And Brooklyn-based Kristian King’s “Twice As Good” tells the story of an over-achiever readying to chart her own path—much like King herself.
These three selections are the result of an intensive search through forums and online film festivals for rising BIPOC talent. And though the stories, structures, and formats of the films differ, each exist at the intersection of justice and joy.